Over 30,000 people form a 25km human chain surrounding site of proposed new Nantes airport
A huge number of protesters from across France organised themselves into a human chain in the early afternoon on Saturday. There are likely to have been almost 40,000 though the authorities give a lower attendance figure. The human chain surrounded the site of the proposed new Nantes airport, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, with its two planned runways and new passenger terminal. The airport has been intended as a replacement for the current Nantes airport. Large numbers of people had come long distances to be there, many travelling overnight by bus, and then shared their picnics in a good natured event with a festive, but determined, spirit. The opponents of the new airport say that it is not needed, the economic arguments don’t stack up, it will increase carbon emissions, and will destroy valuable farmland and biodiversity. At the moment, the project is considerably delayed, but it is still going ahead. Its opponents want it stopped, and they show no sign of reducing their intense opposition.
A human chain of 25 km against the airport project in Nantes
Between 12,000 (according to the prefecture) and over 30,000 (according to the organizers) gathered on Saturday midday around the site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in western France.
They formed a human chain to protest against the airport project that is being backed by the authorities. Protesters circled the site in a 25 km long line, around the site proposed for the two runways and terminal included in the proposed transfer from Nantes airport to Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
Halt to the project demanded
Opponents came from most of the more than 200 Notre-Dame-des-Landes anti committees throughout France, as well as representatives of political parties as Europe-Ecology-The Greens (EELV) and the Left Party.
from original longer article in French at
John Stewart reports:
John Stewart, who attended the event, reported that there is no doubt the French campaigners at Nantes sense they are on the verge of a famous victory.
The Nantes airport plan has become a huge issue in France. There are 200 “support committees” all over France: groups which lobby their local MPs and MEPs about the airport and do supportive actions and stunts in their own area. Hardly a week goes by without one or more of the support groups walking or cycling across France to the site of the proposed airport.
What galvanized the nationwide support were the pictures this winter of hundreds of people resisting arrest in the face of police violence and of the seminal 28 day hunger strike of the local farmers during the presidential election.
They have also had a helpful legal ruling that work – such as assessing the impact on the flood plain – has not been carried out correctly according to EU standards.
If the Nantes campaigners can win, it would be great for other campaigns against other airport expansion plans across Europe. The European opposition to runway building and aviation expansion makes it that much harder for our authorities to argue that it is only in the UK that there is successful resistance.
Link to some more evocative pictures of the huge Nantes event on Saturday:
Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Successful human chain against airport
12/05/2013 (La Depechne, France)
There was a battle of figures yesterday about the number of participants in the “human chain” in protest against the construction of an airport on the site at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near Nantes.
Eva Joly, the former candidate of Europe Ecology Greens present on the site announced 40,000 people when the authorities communicated a figure of 12,500.
“The project is not abandoned: what we want is to stop this project,” said Ms Joly on site.
“We are well aware that the project leaders did not intend to give up and that their strategy is stalled,” for his part stressed the historical opponents, Françoise Verchère, General Counsel (Left Party) .
The authorities had announced that it would take 15,000 people to perform the operation and surround the airport site on a 25 kilometer route. The challenge by opponents Nantes-Atlantique airport anyway was successful. The human chain of 25 km was able to be achieved by the early afternoon. Protesters often came from afar to participate in this new demo. There was firm and reasonable opposition, as reported by observers, wtth a festive atmosphere at each link.
There are also some good photos from Le Figaro of the Nantes 25km human chain at http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2013/05/11/01016-20130511ARTFIG00351-chaine-humaine-geante-autour-de-notre-dame-des-landes.php
and also at
A human chain around the future Nantes airport
Mission accomplished for the opponents of Notre-Dame-des-Landes: from France entirely, they could circle the contested site. – (AFP)
Opponents of Notre-Dame-des-Landes surrounded by 25 km the contested site, always calling for a halt to a project currently in abeyance.
The organizers of the giant human chain that circled the site 25 km to the airport future Notre-Dame-des-Landes, which they oppose, claimed to have won their bet by bringing enough people come from all over France , to complete the chain.
Nevertheless, there were very divergent estimates between those of the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique, which states that the protesters were only 12,000 and that the chain was not quite complete, and the organizers felt that there was something to ” a string and a half “, or 40,000 people.
The diference in the estimates was like that observed on November 17th at a major opposition demonstration – with 13,500 people according to the prefecture, while the organizers said there were 40,000.
“Ayrault port delirium”
“This is a victory for citizen mobilization” , said Jean-Philippe on site Magnen, spokesman for Europe-Ecology-The Greens (EELV), who came to participate in the chain with the main leaders of EELV.
Most of the opponents came from more than 200 anti-Notre-Dame-des-Landes committees throughout who made the trip with the family, by car or bus, but also some protesters from Nantais, Bretons or Vendee came by bike.
We also noted the presence of a fifty Castelroussins and a large contingent of 250 Two-Sèvres, loyal supporters of the protest. It was the inhabitants of Beziers, Languedoc Lille or who had spent the night on the road to arrive on time as retired people or entire families, equipped with flags bearing the image of the opposition movement, a plane crossed both red.
John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch, in his sixties, who crossed the Channel to spend Saturday on the “Zad” area of deferred development explains: “In 2008, the people here came to help us when we were fighting against the project third runway at Heathrow airport. However, this project was abandoned in 2010, it is normal that I’m here today. ”
“The project is not abandoned: what we want is to stop this project” , said the former site of presidential candidate of EELV, Eva Joly.
“We are well aware that project leaders did not intend to give up and that their strategy is sinking “ declared one of the historical opponents, Françoise Verchère, General Counsel (Left Party) and President of CEDPA (elected representatives who doubt the relevance of the airport).
On the side of the road, a large banner denouncing: “Our Lady of Holland, Ayrault port delirium” , the president as his prime minister, who was the former deputy mayor of Nantes where he was one of the airport project leaders.
Now a peaceful environment
After the findings of three government reports on the project made in mid-April, the principle of transfer from the current airport (to the new one) was indeed confirmed, but it is very likely to be pushed beyond the original inauguration date expected in 2017.
Improvements called for in these reports, by shifting the project, calmed the situation.
While the former deputy mayor of Nantes became Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, was very involved in the project, he is keen to regain control of a schedule that initially involved the resumption of work in the next few months, in a context of heightened economic crisis and plummeting popularity of the government.
And the approach of municipal elections in 2014. The prefecture of Loire-Atlantique must specify during June the implications, in terms of timing, the amendments requested by the experts in order to limit the impact of new infrastructure on the environment and on farmland.
The draft Notre-Dame-des-Landes has been postponed several times. [Jean-Sebastien Evrard – AFP
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: a giant human chain against airport
“This is a victory for citizen mobilization,” said Jean-Philippe on site Magnen, spokesman for Europe-Ecology-The Greens (EELV), came to participate in the chain with the main leaders of EELV.
……Venus of Savoy, Yves, Serge and Marc, had crossed France all night by coach to be there. “For us where we live there is the project Lyon-Turin tunnel, ten times worse financially than this airport,” they said. “But I’m fighting for my grandchildren,” says Yves, arms outstretched, giving his hand to his two colleagues to make up his section of the human chain.
A family with two children, a little baby of just three weeks picnicking on the road before the chain said. “We are farmers near Rennes, this project will further destroy farmland,” say Stephanie and Cyril.
….. The project provides for the transfer of the existing airport of Nanted.es, located south of the city, Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a commune located some 30 km to the north.